According to the Oregon State Economy, Construction Jobs Are at Historic Highs

Oregon State Economy: On a seasonally adjusted basis, the construction sector in Oregon employed 121,200 people in November, a new high. After the COVID recession, when employment fell to around 100,000 in April 2020, the sector quickly recovered. It has grown quickly and will be one of Oregon’s strongest industries in 2022.

Prior to that, the sector gradually and quickly added jobs from 2013 to 2019, following a protracted downturn from 2009 to 2012, during which time employment remained around 70,000 for several years following the 2008-09 recession.

Construction Jobs In Oregon Are At Historic Levels, According To The State Economy

Looking back over the last 30 years, it is clear that the business has been very cyclical, experiencing booms and busts over the course of multi-year expansions that were then followed by shorter but potentially abrupt contractions.

In the late 1990s, the industry maintained a steady employment level of around 80,000 for several years until seeing a brief decline in employment during a moderate recession. The number of jobs in Oregon’s construction sector was slightly lower than they are now, at roughly 104,000, just before the 2008 recession.

Oregon’s population and economy have been steadily increasing since the late 1980s. The population of Oregon typically grows by about 1% per year, owing primarily to net in-migration, or more people moving into Oregon than leaving.

Because the population is constantly growing, it may be useful to consider the total number of construction jobs in relation to overall employment. The construction industry has accounted for between 4% and 6% of Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment over the last 30 years. 1992 had the lowest percentage of workers in this industry during this time period, with 4%. A close second was the period from 2010 to 2012, when the construction industry accounted for 4.2% of all payroll positions.

Oregon State Economy

During the housing price boom that preceded the recession of 2008-2009, construction employment accounted for 6% of all nonfarm payroll jobs for the majority of 2006-2007. With an average of 6% of nonfarm jobs in the sector over the last 36 months, Oregon’s construction industry concentration has returned to where it was.

Construction Job History

Employment in Oregon’s construction industry either stagnated between 1997 and 2000, as well as during the two most recent national recessions or fell precipitously immediately before and unquestionably during the 2008-2009 recession. The good news is that construction employment in Oregon quickly recovered from the COVID slump and is now setting new records.

The pattern of home starts was one of the factors that contributed to the economic boom lasting so long and so well in Oregon and nationally between 2013 and 2019. Building permits and housing starts in the years immediately following the 2008-2009 recession were historically low. Given that new house construction accounts for a significant portion of a region’s change in total dollar worth of economic activity, the low level of residential construction activity and spending hampered economic growth.

From 2009 to 2011, single-family and multi-family residential building permits in Oregon averaged around 600 per month on average, but they have since risen to the current rate, which has been averaging close to 1,600 per month for the past six or more years.

Despite a nearly tripling of monthly housing permits during that time, we’re still well below peak levels seen during various periods in the 1990s and mid-2000s, not to mention the late 1970s house-building boom, when building permit activity was double the current level.

During construction, more than just houses and apartments are built. Commercial construction, road construction, remodeling, and other types of construction are all available. This brief article examined residential building permit trends over time because they are an important indicator that can be used to evaluate Oregon’s construction industry.

Overall, Oregon’s employment statistics in the construction industry show that the past two years have been characterized by high demand. Over the past few decades, Oregon’s building industry has seen multiple cycles.

For all of construction, the number of jobs is currently at an all-time high. Furthermore, when compared to the state’s ever-growing population, 6% of all nonfarm payroll jobs are nearly tied with the record highs set in 2006 and 2007.

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